3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time:
In the Gospels, Jesus does some pretty amazing things. We hear about him healing the sick, he tells the paralytic, “rise, pick up your mat, and walk.” He raises the dead, “Lazarus, come out.” He fed the 5000 with a few loaves and a couple fish. He walked on water. He drove out demons. He changed water into wine. He was transfigured on the mountain. Ultimately, he died on the cross, and rose from the dead 3 days later. The miraculous and amazing broke out everywhere Jesus went. But, today in the Gospel, he does something that I think is every bit as miraculous. Today he preaches the Good News. Today he walks up to simple, ordinary fisherman and says, “follow me.” The miracle? They followed.
With a simple word of invitation, these men left everything to follow Jesus. This is truly miraculous. Jesus doesn’t force, he doesn’t cajole. Jesus doesn’t offer riches or gold. He doesn’t try to swindle or convince them. He simply and humbly invites them. They leave everything to follow. Let’s listen again to his invitation.
This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. Three little sentences changed the course of human history. Three little sentences changed the world. These sentences, this invitation caused the fishermen to leave everything behind. These sentences bring us here today. Let’s spend a moment thinking about these sentences.
This is the time of fulfillment. This is a rich and complicated sentence. What is being fulfilled? We know that Jesus came as the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. Jesus came as that Suffering Servant who brings with him salvation. But, I also think the fulfillment Jesus is talking about is the fulfillment of the human heart. At the core of every human being there is a deep and passionate longing, a desire for something more, some thing greater. People have been trying to fill this desire for centuries. They have tried to fill it with money, power, pleasure, success. None of these things are fulfilling, none of them take away that longing. This is the time of fulfillment, because only Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Only in Christ do we find what our hearts are longing for, only in Christ do we find communion with God, which is the fulfillment of all desires.
The kingdom of God is at hand. Our desires are filled by God, by living with God. We were created to live with God and to be with him. Because of original sin we have lost that fellowship with God, that kingdom of God. Jesus came to right the ship, to bring us back, to lead us to the Father. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent and believe in the Gospel. Repent and believe, this is the pathway to the kingdom, to the fulfillment we all desire. Repent, turn away from your fallenness. Notice that Jesus doesn’t condemn the fallen sinner, nor does he say that sin is just fine and we don’t have to change. Rather, he just invites us to go after something new: believe in the gospel. One basic truth of human existence is that our sins do not make us happy. Repent and believe in the Gospel is an invitation to something greater. Don’t we all want that? Truly this is a powerful and inspirational message, there is something more, this is the time of fulfillment, the Kingdom of God is at hand. No wonder those fishermen left everything behind. They saw in Christ something more, something that would truly fulfill them.
Isn’t that why we are here this morning? We have heard the voice of Christ; we have heard his invitation. We keep coming back here to Christ because we see in him the fulfillment of our deepest desires. Just as he did by that seashore so many years ago, Jesus come to each of us in this Holy Eucharist and says, “come follow me.” Will we follow?